"Terrie's Take" on selling
These days, getting a pay raise is not just a matter of being in the company a long time. CEOs and managers are getting smarter about rewarding innovation and increased contribution. But the big question is, "How can I increase my contribution when I'm already working my guts out?"
The answer is by working smarter, not harde... And here's one way to do it: automate your customer relationship by turning to the Internet and email newsletters.
My own story is a good example of how this can be done successfully. About 5 years ago, I realized that although I was the CEO of a number of start-up companies, my strengths were in sales rather than specific corporate management. So I decided to really ramp up my sales activities and set a personal target of meeting 20 new people per week under quality circumstances (i.e., we got to talk about what we do).
This is a pretty hectic pace, but with the judicious use of public speeches and attending forums, etc., I've been able to stick to my goal and meet roughly 1,000 people a year. The problem is that even though I may have met most of them under positive circumstances, and created a personal connection, it is really difficult to call 5,000+ people and wish them Merry Christmas or to tell them about new products and services that we're rolling out. Then one day I happened across an article telling me about the power of email newsletters, so I thought I'd give it a try.
Three years later, I have over 5,000 people subscribed (about 70% of whom I've met personally) to my email newsletter, "Terrie's Take", which is published every week come rain or shine. In writing the newsletter, I follow the rules of the Internet: 1) Give something of value to the users, and they'll give you permission to "talk" to them; 2) Users are happy to "pay" for your newsletter by looking at your ads and announcements, so long as you don't overdo it - I use an 70% news and commentary, 30% self-promotion formula; 3) Always get permission before sending an email magazine; 4) Be sure that what you are sending has sufficient value, or your audience will soon desert you.
I admit it is pretty tough to keep a weekly schedule, especially when you're overseas or on holiday. My wife has gotten used to the idea that Saturday is my "study" day, which culminates in a newsletter going out. And I know that she especially wonders why I bother struggling with time differences and low-speed hotel modem connections.
The answer is simple: a regular newsletter with high-quality content tells your colleagues and acquaintances that you're alive and well, and that you're open for business. If you're not expert enough on a particular topic, ask someone else in the company to advise you until you start to understand more - an inevitable by-product of studying every week for years. Also, in terms of frequency, I find that a weekly or bi-weekly (every 2 weeks) mailing is about right - more is too irritating and less will make people forget you.
I find Terrie's Take to be an excellent source of customer feedback, and an occasionally source of sales leads (though not as many as you would think). Most importantly, though, it creates goodwill by helping me stay in touch with many of my friends and acquaintances who are too busy to read all the industry news.